Thumbs - when shooting an S&W Model 41

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Thumbs - when shooting an S&W Model 41

Post by mikemyers on 7/14/2017, 11:06 am

I was reading a book "The Perfect Pistol Shot" by Albert H League III.  He devotes one section of his book, starting on page #50, to an explanation of how a shooter's thumbs should not be touching the gun.  He says they don't do anything useful, and can introduce a "twisting force".  Ever since I read that, I've tried to shoot my guns with my thumbs held away from the gun, as he suggests.

While dry-firing my M-41, I've noticed that my body sometimes seems to introduce a tiny amount of "quiver".  Not sure what the right word is, but my thumbs seem to be involved.  Since the stock grips of the M-41 have a "ridge" that one's right thumb can rest on, I decided I would test dry-firing the gun that way, with my right thumb fitted into the grip, and my left thumb tucked under the right.  It didn't seem to do anything bad - if anything, it allowed my hands to stay more still, minimizing the (already very tiny) amount of "quiver".  

I'm going on 74.  I'm not a big person.  I've been doing Keith Sanderson's "holding drills" for a long time now, trying to build up the muscles in my arms so the gun is held steady, and for half of each session, I wear a 1.5 pound weight on each wrist, making the gun seem heavier. When I take the weights off, the gun feels like it weights next to nothing.  


So, what do most of you do when shooting this gun?  Since S&W built that "rest" into the grip, maybe it's a good thing to use it for that purpose, or should this be avoided?


Last edited by mikemyers on 7/14/2017, 11:10 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : typo correction)
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Re: Thumbs - when shooting an S&W Model 41

Post by Jon Eulette on 7/14/2017, 11:39 am

The thumb is crucial to shooting the 45 well. So I use it when shooting the 22 as well. When I was in my 20's I could get away with less thumb pressure because I was stronger. In my early 50's now with arthritis and less grip strength I found the addition of thumb pressure to help tremendously. Use your thumb!
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Re: Thumbs - when shooting an S&W Model 41

Post by jglenn21 on 7/14/2017, 12:10 pm

It doesn't get any better with age either. Years ago with my 41 I held my thumb high with minimal contact. Today I place it parallel with the barrel,  fully on the grip. Just firm pressure for me
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Re: Thumbs - when shooting an S&W Model 41

Post by kjanracing on 7/15/2017, 9:56 pm

I paid attention to my thumb position and contribution while shooting my 41 this morning. Turns out I don't grip with my thumb on my 41 pr 1911. I'm also experimenting with grip tension, and a firmer grip seems to work better than a lighter one. Also, I replaced the stock 41 grips with a set do Herrits trainers, they mimic the 1911 slabs. I like that setup best for both guns. This is what is working for me at this time anyway.
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Re: Thumbs - when shooting an S&W Model 41

Post by mikemyers on 7/16/2017, 7:17 am

Something that maybe a few of you can try.  When I first read what Albert League wrote about thumbs, I didn't accept it.  My hands felt comfortable when my thumbs were up against the side of my gun (a Model 28 S&W Highway Patrolman).  While thinking about this afterwards, I started shooting the way I normally held the gun, then removed my thumbs. Every time I did this, my gun moved to the left.  That means my thumbs were trying to push the gun to my right.  I decided that what he wrote made sense, and ever since then, I keep my thumbs away from the gun.

(That led to another test, after smoothly applying pressure to the gun in dry-firing, and waiting a few seconds, I quickly released my trigger finger - and most times, that caused the gun to move sideways.  I decided that was another no-no, as obviously my trigger finger was doing more than just pushing towards the rear, something else to correct.)

I think an interesting test would be for some of you guys to line up your sights on the target, as you normally do, and with the gun ready to fire, instead move your thumbs away from the gun so they don't touch.  Does the gun remain stable, or does it move sideways?
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Re: Thumbs - when shooting an S&W Model 41

Post by Jack H on 7/16/2017, 8:37 am

Thumbs?  Two thumbs, two hands make it a different ball game IMO. 
I do not think the one thumb-one hand theory applies the same to two hands.
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Re: Thumbs - when shooting an S&W Model 41

Post by james r chapman on 7/16/2017, 9:05 am

Jack H wrote:Thumbs?  Two thumbs, two hands make it a different ball game IMO. 
I do not think the one thumb-one hand theory applies the same to two hands.

Nope... It doesn't
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Re: Thumbs - when shooting an S&W Model 41

Post by Magload on 7/16/2017, 7:40 pm

God would not have given us thumbs it he didn't intend for us to use them shooting.  Don
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Re: Thumbs - when shooting an S&W Model 41

Post by 243winxb on 7/17/2017, 7:13 am

One hand shooting, i agree with this - a shooter's thumbs should not be touching the gun.
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Re: Thumbs - when shooting an S&W Model 41

Post by davekp on 7/17/2017, 7:27 am

I bought and read "The Perfect Pistol Shot". I wouldn't put too much credence in it as applies to one handed precision pistol shooting.

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Re: Thumbs - when shooting an S&W Model 41

Post by mikemyers on 7/17/2017, 1:32 pm

'Davekp', my copy of the book covers both one hand and two hand shooting. If you check page 50, and if your book is the same as mine, you'll see the section about thumbs.  Check the photo at the lower left corner of the page.

He writes things that at first glance didn't seem to make sense, and which contradict what others have written.  At first they seemed silly, but I tried them anyway, and they worked.  

Yes, the book is about precision pistol shooting, so some of what he writes might not apply for other kinds of shooting - I don't know.  

For anyone who doubts the part about thumbs, next time you're practicing, go about things the way you normally do, but before you take a shot every so often, simply lift your thumb(s) away from the gun.  If the gun moves, you're observing what he wants to avoid. 

(Just for the heck of it, every so often, just as you're about to shoot, move your trigger finger away from the trigger, and see if the gun moves right and left.  That means the trigger finger is putting sideways force on the gun, another no-no.)
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Re: Thumbs - when shooting an S&W Model 41

Post by Jon Eulette on 7/17/2017, 1:53 pm

mikemyer wrote:
For anyone who doubts the part about thumbs, next time you're practicing, go about things the way you normally do, but before you take a shot every so often, simply lift your thumb(s) away from the gun.  If the gun moves, you're observing what he wants to avoid.
If you use thumbs or don't use thumbs you have to be consistent. If you don't use thumb then ADD thumb it will definately change alignment. If you use thumb and REMOVE thumb it will definately change alignment.

Regardless of type of pistol shooting you have to be consistent. I can break almost every fundamental rule and still shoot 10's as long as I'm CONSISTENT. 

Don't get wrapped up over any one thing.....just squeeze trigger without interrupting sight alignment and you'll shoot 10's if you are consistent.
Jon
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Re: Thumbs - when shooting an S&W Model 41

Post by orpheoet on 7/17/2017, 2:10 pm

Jon Eulette wrote:
mikemyer wrote:
For anyone who doubts the part about thumbs, next time you're practicing, go about things the way you normally do, but before you take a shot every so often, simply lift your thumb(s) away from the gun.  If the gun moves, you're observing what he wants to avoid.
If you use thumbs or don't use thumbs you have to be consistent. If you don't use thumb then ADD thumb it will definately change alignment. If you use thumb and REMOVE thumb it will definately change alignment.

Regardless of type of pistol shooting you have to be consistent. I can break almost every fundamental rule and still shoot 10's as long as I'm CONSISTENT. 

Don't get wrapped up over any one thing.....just squeeze trigger without interrupting sight alignment and you'll shoot 10's if you are consistent.
Jon
1911 my thumb is on the safety no pressure. I have 2 kinds of Herrett's for my 41 both with the thumbrests. I like them because the thumb position is similar to having my thumb on a 1911 safety. I absolutely go for no pressure. My pinky is also out of the equation.
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Re: Thumbs - when shooting an S&W Model 41

Post by mikemyers on 7/17/2017, 5:16 pm

Jon Eulette wrote:.......If you use thumb and REMOVE thumb it will definately change alignment.

Regardless of type of pistol shooting you have to be consistent. I can break almost every fundamental rule and still shoot 10's as long as I'm CONSISTENT. .....

If I ever get as good as you, maybe I'll have the same feeling.  I'm still learning to be consistent, and my mental list of what to replicate every time has one less thing to be aware of, if my thumb is off the gun.  If it is touching the gun, it better have the exact same pressure on the gun every time.

I just tried holding the gun several ways.  Holding my thumbs off to the side is a deliberate act - I have to move my thumbs out and hold them there.   I just tried allowing my left thumb to rest on the grip, and let my right thumb rest on the left thumb.  That's one less thing my hand needs to be doing.  It certainly is "more comfortable".
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Re: Thumbs - when shooting an S&W Model 41

Post by Jack H on 7/17/2017, 7:31 pm

My thumb is not putting significant pressure on the side of the gun.  But my thumb ham is definitely pressing forward on the back strap.  To help me learn this ham press forward years ago, LtC Miller had me shoot the 106 HS in SF with my thumb and pinky flying out away from the gun as far as possible.  Later we worked that into the Colt OMM 38.
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Re: Thumbs - when shooting an S&W Model 41

Post by LenV on 7/23/2017, 10:08 pm

If right handed your right thumb should be lightly resting on the ambi grips and your left thumb should be in your left front pocket playing with the keys you forgot to move to your right front pocket.
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Re: Thumbs - when shooting an S&W Model 41

Post by mikemyers on 7/24/2017, 10:06 am

LenV, in my case, I shoot two handed.  Were I to compete in a Bullseye competition, I guess I would need to put my left thumb elsewhere.  My keys are already in my right pocket so I guess I have a (tiny) head start.  That you guys can shoot one handed, while firing a 45, is incredible (to me).  

At my range, you can use either or both hands.  Since I've shot two handed since the 1970's, I'm probably out of time to change now.  Maybe in my next life.
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Re: Thumbs - when shooting an S&W Model 41

Post by mikemyers on 7/24/2017, 11:51 am

...added later...    I was wondering about one handed shooting, and decided when I finish my dry-firing as I've been doing, I will try each time to also dry-fire one handed.  My red dot got angry again, as it used to be two-handed a year ago, but I was surprised that it wasn't worse.  Not sure if you were serious LenV, but my left thumb felt comfortable in my left pocket.  I guess this is just one more challenge.
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Re: Thumbs - when shooting an S&W Model 41

Post by LenV on 7/24/2017, 6:40 pm

I was serious. Putting your hand in your pocket stops it from moving around thus not causing your body to move around. Watch a Bullseye line sometime and see where the shooters put their off hand.
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Re: Thumbs - when shooting an S&W Model 41

Post by mikemyers on 7/24/2017, 9:53 pm

Thanks.  I did some testing today, and I understand.

When two-hand dry-firing, if I wrap my right thumb outside of the left hand, the red dot dances around quite a bit.  If I put my right thumb onto the groove in the wood grips, and allow my left thumb to come right up to the gun, but not really touch, the red dot settles down.

Because of what you wrote, I've been trying one handed shooting (well, dry firing) more.  I expected it to be much worse, but I'm surprised to find that with a lot of practice, I might be able to shoot that way.  The red dot isn't stable, but it's nothing as bad as what I expected.  I'll have to ask at the range and see what else I'm supposed to do differently when using one hand.
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